Dance brings the Olympics to life in Greenwich

Olympic competition in dance was personified at the Royal Naval College in Greenwich as three of Britain’s strongest dance companies presented their respective contributions to the Cultural Olympiad.

Dance GB is a programme of newly commissioned works from the ‘national’ dance companies of England, Scotland and Wales which has already been staged in Glasgow and Cardiff, and reviewers seem to agree that Wales comes out on top.

The English National Ballet’s outgoing director Wayne Eagling was the mastermind behind this competition, but ENB did not make the showing that many expected. Itzik Galili’s choreography turns out a lot of beautifully choreographed linear movement but no real narrative in ENB’s presentation of ‘And the Earth Shall Bear Again’.

Choreography by Martin Lawrence for John Adams’ ‘Run For It’ presented by the Scottish Ballet was smooth and clean, but somehow lacking a distinctive ‘voice’. Even with Martin Boyce’s impressive set, the Scots’ offering was just a bit too controlled and precise to be enthralling.

The National Dance Company Wales, youngest and smallest of the Olympiad trio, took the gold in this show. Ten dancers presented ‘Dream’, choreographed by Christopher Bruce, and both the performers and the audience had a wonderful time of it. Set to Ravel’s Bolero with scenes reminiscent of an English village in the 1940’s, the dancers portray various Olympic sports, and some not so Olympic, like egg-and-spoon and sack races.

‘Dream’ calls up the patriotism of that era, plus some Diamond Jubilee nostalgia, plus the sporting ideals of the London Olympics, both past and present in a beautifully adept and truly crowd-pleasing performance. The choreography was superb and the dancers showed such energy and enthusiasm that NDCW was the high point of what was overall a splendid programme.